No jerks, yes beer. That's Laser Wolf's motto, an improbable if not downright impossible mission statement for a bar.
Even a pub smack dab in the middle of heaven is sure to have a few drunken a-holes on any given night. Around 1 in the morning, a few angels are going to have to bounce Mahatma Gandhi after he tries to fight Elvis for making fun of his pants.
This is just the nature of a bar.
But for the past four years -- in a city some residents still refer to as Fort Liquordale (without a hint of irony) -- Laser Wolf has done a mind-blowingly good job of delivering on its promise, achieving a ratio that's every bar's fantasy: no jerks, yes beer.
Last Friday, February 13, 2015, Laser Wolf threw a party to celebrate its fourth birthday. Regulars can judge the crowd before stepping foot inside Laser Wolf just by eyeballing the line of cars parked parallel to the train tracks along Progresso Drive. You didn't need to be a regular, though, to tell something special was happening inside. Cars bordered the entire length of the railroad tracks, stretching all the way to Andrews Avenue.
Inside, the cozy bar was filled as expected. But it was business as usual. There were no special balloons or streamers. Bartenders handed out a free Laser Wolf sticker with each closed tab, then quickly darted back from the cash register to take the next order. Patrons stared curiously at the TV above the bar, where a very gory Norwegian Nazi zombie flick called Dead Snow played.
Outside, in Laser Wolf's courtyard, a line snaked out of a photo booth that was there to celebrate the occasion. Jabrjaw DJ'd, spinning a steady flow of bass-heavy hip-hop that drowned out the passing trains. Underdressed Floridians drank great beer and tried not to shiver in the 55-degree weather.
Brothers Chris and Jordan Bellus with Pat Rothblatt opened Laser Wolf on February 11, 2011. They wanted to do something new, to give folks an alternative from the generic watering holes of downtown Fort Lauderdale.
"I think traditionally, everybody considered Fort Lauderdale as downtown Fort Lauderdale," Chris Bellus told New Times in a profile on Laser Wolf last November. "There's a handful of great bars down there, but in my mind, something will close and they'll open the same exact bar under a different name. I'd like to see more local businesses and smaller, more thoughtful approaches."
If Laser Wolf's success over the past four years is any indication, Chris isn't alone. Locals have responded to Laser Wolf's business model with a resounding thumbs-up. Other places like Riverside Market, Funky Buddha, and LauderAle Brewery provide further proof that Broward County craves great beer in a relaxed environment.
While Laser Wolf isn't the first Fort Lauderdale bar to put an emphasis on local craft beer, it is certainly one of the best. And over the past four years, the Bellus brothers have carved out a wonderful little hole for themselves in the Fort Lauderdale scene. Here's to four more years.
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